The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Michael Sorice, an assistant professor of forest resources and environmental conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, for his work to protect imperiled ecosystems.
His research focuses on how natural resource users and landowners affect biodiversity and ecosystems.
He navigates a social dilemma in which conservation over the long term is considered essential to sustaining human well-being, yet people opt instead for their short-term self-interests. This behavior results in increasing losses in ecosystem function and services. Sorice investigates the prospects for sustainable practices across marine and terrestrial environments as well as in recreation/tourism settings and on private lands.
Among his projects is a landowner-centered approach to the design of conservation incentive programs. By identifying the needs of landowners and then using participatory processes to incorporate the needs of the conservation target, a complementary program can be achieved.
Along those lines, he studies voluntary incentive programs as a policy tool to improve imperiled/endangered species recovery on private lands. This research examines the nature of and degree to which private landowners manage land for the benefit of endangered species when provided with incentives to do so. He assesses when, where, how, and why incentive programs contribute to biodiversity conservation.
Recreational use of natural resources is continually growing. Sorice addresses the paradox of maintaining or increasing recreation/tourism benefits while protecting the target resource. Increased use leads to increased revenues that can be reinvested in management, but it also leads to an increase in social and biophysical impacts.
Sorice received his doctoral degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, where he also received a master’s degree in recreation, parks, and tourism sciences. His bachelor’s degree in zoology is from Miami University, and he worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.